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Christopher Waite

Languages and Literature, University of Warwick

Thesis title:

Translating transgression, translation as transgression: the 'crimes' of Agustin Espinosa


Chris has a special interest in literature of the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939) and the translation of avant-garde texts. His MA dissertation What Celia Tells Us: Translating Elena Fortún provided the first English translations of the ‘Celia’ stories of Fortún (a pseudonym of Encarnación Aragoneses Urquijo, 1886-1952) along with creative-critical commentaries on the influence of Don Quixote, translation as bearing witness, and feminist psychoanalytic perspectives on Fortún. He is also interested in psychoanalysis and translation and exploring the intersections between the work of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), Antoine Berman (1942-1991) and the Australian philosopher Andrew Benjamin (1952-).

Phd Project

Translating transgression, translation as transgression: the ‘crimes’ of Agustín Espinosa

This practice-based literary translation project unveils two works of Agustín Espinosa (1897-1939) to English readers for the first time. Espinosa was a prominent Canarian writer during the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939). The experimental nature of his writing transgressed Francoist Catholic values and consequently he fell under investigation during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). This destroyed his academic career and is also implicated in his early death. The two works to be translated, Lancelot, 28º 7º. Guía integral de una isla Atlántica (1929) and Crimen (1934), were instrumental to the development of the internationally influential Canarian avant-garde. Despite this, Espinosa is overlooked in critical studies of the ‘Generation of 1927’ group of avant-garde Spanish poets; frequent republication in Spain since the 1960s has not yet attracted English translation. This project responds to growing interest in the literature of the Second Spanish Republic and the need to recover a diversity of voices stifled by Francoist repression. The translational approach will use a cognitive stylistics framework (Boase-Beier 2011, 2014) and the project endeavours to enrich translation theory by extending Stockwell’s (2017) The Language of Surrealism by directly addressing the translation of avant-garde texts. In addition, and in response to Wright (2016), the commentaries will make a significant contribution to the limited engagement with Berman’s (1992) negative (psycho)analytic of translation, exploring the possibility of a positive role for the (transgressive) unconscious in translation. In examining ‘translation as transgression’ and how this might be expressed stylistically in texts. If translation itself is a kind of transgression—a crossing of the boundaries between languages and cultures—then the translation of transgressive texts offers an opportunity to amplify the disruptive and creative potential of translation; this project will explore the creative possibilities of this in practice.

For anyone interested in the work of Agustín Espinosa, the complete works are available for download from the blog of Espinosa scholar José Miguel Pérez Corrales, Obra en LibertadLink opens in a new window

As well as being supervised by Maureen Freely and Alison Ribeiro de Menezes at Warwick I have the benefit of the input of Chantal Wright, Co-Head of the Institute for Translation and Interpreting at Zurich University of Applied Sciences and formerly of Warwick Writing Programme. 

Research Area

  • Interpreting and Translation
  • Languages and Literature


Waite, Christopher. 2019. ‘Santa Cruz Verde 2030: A New Dawn for Tenerife?’ Toxic News 15 (2). https://bit.ly/32ULNM1.
———. 2023a. ‘La Ida’. Virtual Spanish Civil War. 2023. https://www.vscw.ca/es/node/277.
———. 2023b. ‘Monumento a los caídos’. Virtual Spanish Civil War. 2023. https://www.vscw.ca/es/node/279.
———. 2023c. ‘Monumento a Su Excelencia el Jefe del Estado / Monumento a la Victoria. Virtual Spanish Civil War. 2023. https://www.vscw.ca/es/node/278.

Public Engagement & Impact